RWOP Interview: Linda Johnson
An inspiration and role model for everyone in poker, gender aside, Poker Hall of Famer Linda Johnson is the epitome of a "Real Women of Poker."
Johnson was recently featured in PokerJunkie.com's Real Women of Poker series and Poker Junkie blogger compncards had a chance to catch up with Johnson afterwards and speak about her career and accomplishments.
Compncards: Linda, thank you for taking a few moments to talk to us.
Linda Johnson: My pleasure... I appreciate your asking for the interview.
Compncards: First, let me congratulate you on your induction into the Poker Hall of Fame. Tell us a bit about how it felt to be just the second woman inducted into the hall.
LJ: It is a tremendous honor to be recognized by my industry for my contributions to the game.
It means even more to me as a woman because almost all of the media and current members of the Hall of Fame are men so it shows that the industry supports women in poker.
Compncards: When you first started playing poker in the 70s, what was your game of preference?
LJ: I started playing draw poker in Gardena, CA ... that was the only game that was legal back then
Hold'em wasn't legalized in California until the mid-80s. When I traveled to Las Vegas, my game of choice was six-card stud or razz.
Compncards: Once you turned pro in 1980, you moved to Vegas. Which was your home casino once you moved and which ones did you frequent?
LJ: My home casino was the Mint, which was bought by Binion's years later.I also played at the Aladdin, the Fremont and the Bingo Palace (which is now Palace Station).
About two years after moving to Las Vegas, the Golden Nugget became the place to play so I spent lots of time there.
Compncards: Were there any players back during that period that you found overly intimidating? Also, were there any that you particularly looked up to?
LJ: I really wasn't intimidated by anyone but there were several that I looked up to: Sissy Bottoms (strange name I know but she married a guy whose last name was Bottoms) and Linda Christopher were two women who were making a living playing so I admired them.
Denny Axel and Mike Landers were two others I really respected.
Compncards: You took down the 1997 WSOP Razz event. How special was that win for you and do you still have the bracelet?
LJ: Winning a bracelet was on my bucket list so I was beyond thrilled for me personally but also for me as a woman because I thought it would show other women that they could compete against men.
I wear the bracelet almost every day and am extremely proud of it.
Compncards: You purchased CardPlayer in 1993 and ran it over the next eight years. What made you decide on that purchase and what are your fondest memories of running CardPlayer?
LJ: I actually purchased it so I could be involved with Card Player Cruises.
My fondest memories are of traveling to so many different cardrooms and the relationships I had with the Card Player staff, our writers and the cardroom managers I met.
Compncards: You have been involved in many poker related activities away from table, including the TDA, PPA and PokerGives.org. Which of your projects are you most proud of and why?
LJ: Tough to narrow it down to one since I am proud of so many of them.
I supposed the biggest contribution to the industry was co-founding the TDA since it helped standardize tournament rules all over the country.
Co-founding PokerGives.org also has brought me great pride because we are able to help a lot of needy people with the funds we raise.
Compncards: Much has been discussed lately regarding the lack of growth in the number of women in the WSOP Main Event. Why do you think there has been a lack of growth and is there anything that can be done to bolster those numbers?
LJ: Many women have families and jobs and can't afford to be away from them for two weeks. I also think that women are a bit more practical when it comes to money.
$10,000 is a lot to risk. I think satellites are the way to get more women into the Main Event.
Compncards: What recommendations would you give to any young person thinking about going into poker as a profession?
LJ: I would recommend that they get their education first. Playing poker is a fine profession providing that they have the necessary skills, money management, and passion for the game.
I recommend that they move up in limits slowly and make sure to put money away for times when they might run bad. They should get a mentor, read every book and magazine about poker, talk strategy with friends they respect, etc.
Also, they need to have a life outside of poker.
Compncards: Thank you for taking the time to talk to us Linda and congratulations again on your Hall of Fame induction.